In the Garden:
Middle South
March, 2004
Regional Report

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Even if you never use coneflowers (echinacea) medicinally, experiencing the beauty of the blossoms qualifies as green medicine.

Green Medicine

It's said that a fool has himself as a patient, but I think we all should practice certain forms of self-medication, particularly those that take place in a garden. As you plan this year's green adventures, consider your garden's medicinal value. Taken in daily doses, green medicine can strengthen and heal you in more ways than you think.

Beauty Balm
The world wants to be a beautiful place, and we gardeners get to participate in that process. Creating beauty exercises both body and imagination, so it's a sure path to deep down fitness. Plant a lily. Greet each day in the company of morning glories. Grow a perfect tomato. These projects, and many more, comprise the green medicine that I call beauty balm.

Soil Soother
The clay soils in our region present fine opportunities for indulging in digging sessions, which you might call soil soothers. Amending ancient soil with newly dead organic matter warms muscles and mind, and if you listen closely you can hear your soil saying "Thank you. I needed that!" Doing soil work makes me sleep better. This may be all in my head, but it works.

Increased Immunity
It's a fact that freshly harvested vegetables are more nutritious than those that spend days making their way from field to market. Vitamins A and C are especially fragile, so growing your own tomatoes, peppers, salad greens, and such improves your diet and enhances your immune system. Getting out in bright sunlight enhances biological immunity, too. I think gardening helps protect us from emotional illnesses as well. When you're feeling sad and you want to be glad, time in the garden works wonders.

Respiration Therapy
Instead of explaining this one, I'll suggest this exercise. Pinch a tip of rosemary or another aromatic herb, crush it in your hands, and breathe deeply. Exhale. Repeat as often as needed, and don't worry about taking too much. You can never get enough of this form of respiration therapy.


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